On a recent expedition to Fry’s to buy a new hard drive for my aging (see: 2 year-old) Macbook, I was distracted by the wide array of “Gentlemen’s interest” magazines on display.  And what should be next to these muses of programming?  The magazine of the interesting gentleman: Esquire.  And what was on the cover?  This:

That's right: RDJ in all his puzzling, saucy beauty.

Now it’s no secret that I love me some Robert Downey Jr (and maybe the subtle hinting at his crotchal region).  However, the thing that really intrigued me was the puzzle box on which our hero is perched.  It’s Augmented Reality, and Esquire just did so many things right with it.  The basic premise is that you can hold the box up to your webcam (after installing the nifty AR software) and the magazine will come to life right before your eyes.  RDJ jumps off the page and delivers his monologue brimming with flustered charm as though one were watching an Iron Man redux as opposed to holding a page in front of a webcam.

Other AR segments include funny jokes told in person by a beautiful woman, a Lexus ad where you control the speed of the car with the magazine, and a sample jazz song from a featured artist.

I mentioned that Esquire did several things right:

  1. Not out with the old…just make it some new.  It used an already beloved column as a guinea pig.  Readers love funny jokes told by a beautiful woman, and it’s a logical leap that they’ll probably love it even more in person.  Take something the consumer is already comfortable with and make it avant garde.
  2. Let the advertiser try it.  Readers will abide by it (and maaaaaybe even think it’s cool), the mag can charge higher rates for cool new technology, and Lexus gets to use infrared to find your face.
  3. Keep it right on target.  Every issue of Esquire has a theme (perhaps based on the assumption that men are mono-thinkers) and this issue’s theme is…the Augmented Reality!  Everything in the issue and on the landing page points straight to one thing: try the damn AR already. From the front and center HOW TO and easy download buttons to the nifty video with the mag Editor explaining the wonders of modern technology, the only thing that could distract said man from his objective is wanting to know what the creepy JC Penney’s kids are doing.

In short, I love this idea, its execution, and its cover star.  And I plan to subscribe to Esquire until the dying day of multimedia magazine production.


The Story of Stuff

Click through to watch the video after the jump

I stumbled upon Annie Leonard’s “Story of Stuff” through Facebook.  One of my friends had joined a group called Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumerism play for people opposed to the buy! buy! buy! mentality of the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday).

Now, my daisy chain-making hippie dippie side cheers when I see things like this, and my evil soul sucking business major side hisses and boos.  Which leaves me smack dab in the middle: a pragmatic observer of the things gone right or wrong with this manifestation of activism.

Number 1: The means of communication

It’s a video, so 10 points right there.  Oh, it’s an online video?  5 bonus points.  Wait, it’s based off a book and has a blog with several international versions?  Okay fine: infinity points for communication types.  But in all seriousness, the vessel is key to understanding, and the Story of Stuff has it’s recyclable, compostable, and non-toxic containers down pat.

Number 2: The message

I love a good flash animation.  Know why?  It actually focuses on the message!  This animation is primo because it’s clean, on message, and is used for all the branding of the video.  I know plenty of for-profit brands who could use this kind of consistent messaging across all corners of their brands.

Number 3: How it found me

This video is something I wanted to see.  I may not agree with it 100%, but I personally find it interesting and applicable to my life.  But before I could decide whether I wanted to see it, it had to get its grubby little internet paws on my eyeballs.  How did it do this?  By appealing to my network and sparking interest in other actions.  The group on Facebook that my friend was a member of wasn’t even for the video: it was for an event (Buy Nothing Day) that was created in the spirit of the video.  And my friend didn’t even directly show me the event.  The fact that she joined the group showed up in my news feed without me even asking her what she’s been up to lately.

I realize that these points are not the newest news, but I think it’s always good to take a step back to realize just how many ways there are to get a message out there in the ether and into the brain of the people who you want to use it.

And in the spirit of Buy Nothing Day, watch this SNL short:

Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford

Big ups to The Consumerist for this one

It’s official: we’re moved in.  I’m employed with a house to live in, a dog and roommates to love on, and a big screen TV that our landlord left in the basement.

What’s that you ask.  Why no: I don’t think it could get any better.  But I’m always open to suggestion.

The house!

The house!

The living room.

The living room.

The bathroom.

The bathroom.

The backyard.

The backyard.

Riley! Our 10-year-old border collie mix.

Riley! Our 10-year-old border collie mix.

So…when are you coming to visit?

personasCourtesy of personas.com, which peruses the interwebs to find how your presence measure up in different categories.

Anyone who know me notice anything (or…multiple things) strange about this assessment?  The question now is of course two fold: why is the internet wrong and how can I fix it.

So I have a new job. I’ve been working for nearly a month now and have yet to brag on my firm, so it’s just about that time, don’t you think? I’m officially an Account Manager at a technical firm called 500lb Marketing Solutions. We’re a firm of contractors, offering a range of techie stuff from website redesign, all kinds of coding, and email marketing.

We going to pump...your website up.

We going to pump...your website up.

The virtue of being at a smallish firm is such that I have a lot of freedom to learn.  I’ve done everything from designing a logo for a kids soccer team to coding HTML to making sales calls and finding new business.

Translation: a lot of self-teaching and observation.

I spend the time not spent writing proposals brushing up on my skills (and creating new ones out of thin air).   Enter Lynda.com, a way cool resource for plopping in front of the computer and cramming knowledge into one’s screen-wearied brain.  Lately, an ecclectic guy named Deek has been teaching me the eccentricities of Photoshop, a tool I’ve always known about but never really gotten to know.  Photoshop to me is like that barista you order coffee from every morning and are always friendly to, but all of a sudden the zombpocalypse occurs right in the middle of your caramel macchiato and you find yourselves side-by-side barricading the front doors and sawing off steamer wands to slow down the onslaught of the undead.

I digress.

My point is, even at $25/month, Lynda is a really great resource, especially for an entry level aspiring technical marketer like myself.

It’s now 18 days until KS and I move into our new house (along with our 3 roommates and new doggie) and we’re about fed up.  Not necessarily with each other, but certainly with having a kitchen the size of a shower and a shower the size of a sink.  The Portland State dorms have treated us well for a temporary living situation (see: Chipotle in the basement) but we’re ready to move on with our lives.

We’ve been dreaming of full-sized refrigerators, comfy couches in our very own finished basement, tending watermelons* in our garden, and hearing the click-clack of Riley’s toenails on the hardwood floor.  Especially now that we’ve overcome the hurdles of employment and transportation, housing is beckoning like a siren song of chili dogs over a cold, rainy carnival parking lot.

*Not kidding.  WATERMELONS.

So I give you…the paper chain:

Hung in between the closet and the microwave.

Hung in between the closet and the microwave.

We made the chain for our own sanity.  Every day, we can get out of bed and remove one link, knowing this simple action brings us one day closer to the NoPo hearth and home we’ve been dreaming of.